UNION CITY — The National Trail football team earned its second victory of the season in convincing fashion, 39-15, over winless Cross County Conference foe Mississinawa Valley on Friday, Oct. 7, at Union City.
“Good victory for us, one we really needed to have,” said NT coach Randy Kerns. “We have a stretch of games coming up and needed some positive momentum for those last three games. Thankfully, we are beating the worst teams on our schedule, but we need to beat good ones as well.”
National Trail scored its first touchdown on the night on an Evynn Short to Lucas Boggs pass for 24-yards and a 6-0 lead after a missed extra-point kick.
MV threw an interception later in the quarter, but Trail didn’t do anything with the opportunity, and ended up punting. Mississinawa returned the punt for good yardage and scored a touchdown on a bad Trail defensive play, according to Kerns.
With the ‘Hawks up 7-6, coach Kerns felt troubled.
“I was nervous,” Kerns said, “because we get down early and things get away from us from there on.”
But his fears were short lived, as Ben Sullivan scored on the Blazers’ next drive, capping a 14-play drive with a 1-yard run, to retake the lead despite a missed 2-point conversion.
Up 12-7 in the second quarter, Trail’s defense held MV fairly well, but a few penalties costs the Blazers a few drives offensively. Toward the end of half, with minute left at midfield, National Trail went with an aggressive two-minute offense. It was Angel Garabito who grabbed a 47-yard pass from Short to close the half at 19-7.
“He did a nice job, he’s our fastest player and was overdue for a breakout play offensively this year,” Kerns said. “We felt sound defensively, and didn’t need to make many changes. Offensively we needed to clean up our game with the penalties and pour on the pressure.”
The Blazers did just that as they started with the ball and ran down the field in the third quarter. Taking control and being very physical up front, the drive ended with a Sullivan 2-yard run into pay dirt. With the extra-point kick good, Trail was up 26-7 and never relinquished the lead.
MV gained two key pass interference penalties on their next drive, both occurring on 4th down plays, to keep the drive up but ended up losing the ball on downs later. Trail answered at end of the quarter, with their drive carrying over into the fourth quarter, as Short connected to Garabito with 11:50 left in the game and a 33-7 lead.
The Blackhawks then threw a pass on third and long, and ended up taking the score to 33-15 with the big play.
Trail found the end zone one last time, with Sullivan plowing in for a 3-yard run to cap the game 39-15.
Sullivan led the team with 123 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. He also racked up seven tackles defensively, Boggs also had seven tackles on the night. Short finished the game completing 11-of-17 passes for 207 yards and three scores. Garabito was the main receiving threat, hauling in seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Senior linebacker Corbin Hoblit had a season-high 19 tackles for the Blazer defense. Payton Lane and Noah Brinkley each had one interception.
“It was nice to see Corbin have a breakout game like that,” Kerns said. “We’ve needed him to play like that all year long. We definitely needed this win — we now have some confidence going in, but we need to prepare because Bethel is really fast and we need to be sound defensively. We still have a lot to clean up to do with our own game. Penalties are about nine per game for us and you just can’t win like that. We must also clean up the turnover battles and use our physical strength from now on.”
This Friday’s game, Oct. 14, against the Bethel Bees, will be played at home. Trail is now 2-5 on the year, and is 1-4 in the conference.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH